After a close first half against host Yreka in the third place game of the Yreka Invitational on Saturday, the shorthanded Del Norte boys basketball team turned up the intensity after halftime and pulled away from the Miners for a 62-46 victory to finish 2-1 at the season opening tournament.
We came out kind of flat,” said Del Norte head coach Blaine Lopez. “It was kind of typical of the third day of a tournament, which can be hard to play, especially when you have young guys who aren’t used to doing that which we obviously did. Those younger guys actually got quite a bit of playing time, which was nice.”
After a slow start to the game, Del Norte battled back to take the lead at halftime, which continued to expand in the second half.
“We came out with a little more energy. We had a lot of spectators in the first half,” Lopez said. “Again, they are just trying to adjust to a different level of basketball and we have to play harder. The first half they were a little sluggish and watching a little too much. But in the second half we hit the boards harder, we hit a few shots, and we got out and ran to get some easy baskets, and we got some stops. We just played much better overall in the second half.”
Del Norte played the entire tournament without six of its varsity players, including five players expected to figure heavily into the regular rotation as the season progresses.
That left five players that will stay on the varsity team throughout the season to team up with five players that will likely end up playing with the junior varsity team this season.
“The five kids who are going to stay on the varsity played lots of minutes,” Lopez said. “I think that, even though they won’t tell you, they will be glad to have a little more depth this weekend.
“I want to give credit to the young guys too because people don’t understand that when you are thrown into the fire like that, that is hard to do. It is a big step up, and I thought for the most part they did a pretty good job. I think the biggest thing for them is just understanding the difference in the level, and understanding that they have to play at a high level the whole time, not just in spurts.”
Del Norte will finally be at full strength when the team returns to action at the Cloverdale Tournament, which will run from Thursday until Saturday.